A couple of weeks ago,
I got a mail in my box
telling me about holiday gifts and toys,
and warning me which ones can be switched on
to listen in on your family.
The list ranged from tvs,
refrigerators and other kitchen appliances,
to children’s toys,
and even to electric toothbrushes.
(Why on earth would ANYONE want to listen in
while I am brushing my teeth?)
(Oh, or maybe the sound of teeth brushing alerts aliens
and calls them to the bathroom?
Just in case they have been in the milky way too long,
and can find no rest facilities,
after drinking all that water on Mars?)
It was a well-done and well-researched list,
so I decided to check up on all this-
I’m the curious kind,
a publication talking about how
in the future,
your refrigerator will keep lists of basic items,
and call a store to fill itself,
after which it will let the delivery man in,
taking pictures of him, of course,
and calling the police if he steps off the red delivery path.
Then there was the new improved echo box,
or Alexa, if you will.
Actually, I am more than a little bit sceptical
of boxes that tell me how, and when,
to do things I didn’t really didn’t want to do in the first place.
Our family retainer.
For years, Bruce,
has guided us,
from inside a GPS box,
with a mellifluous voice,
and an unfortunate,
if you aren’t driving on the left side of the road,
you deserve to be directed to a “Bridge”
that is actually a ferry landing,
with the ferry out, no less,
or to the base of a very long, very high set of church steps,
with the instructions “just drive straight ahead.”
(Actually, small addendum here: over thirty-five percent of the world drives left,
as I just found out- yeah Wiki-
and at one point,
up to about the eighteenth century,
everyone drove left-
a throwback to days when you mounted a horse left,
so your sword wasn’t in the way,
and rode left to not whack passers-by.
Or have a right hand free to use it.
It changed, when heavy loads
were pulled by a large team-
four, six, eight horses,
managed by a man who rode on the back of the last horse.
On the left, so he had a hand free to lash them.
Sorry. Historical. Not my beliefs.
And now back to Bruce.
Who has served us faithfully,
if somewhat eccentrically,
And wasn’t a bad type.
Even if he did talk a bit much.
And now, there is his girlfriend Alexa,
or all the other names,
(would you want your husband, or wife, naming a mechanical box after you?
Which tells you how to live?
Has anyone read the Stepford wives?)
So now, the latest is, that this home manager thing,
has been upgraded.
Perhaps with a sexier voice?
And is guaranteed to help you find the things
that “help you lead a better life.”
Well, there are those robots that are allowed to have citizenship-
in Saudi Arabia,
or allowed to marry,
And then, thinking about all of this,
A time when I was giving piano lessons
(for free, friends of my mother)
to teachers in California
by state law,
had to be able to play an instrument,
in order to accompany children while singing,
in order to renew their teachers’ license.
And since my mother was standing watching us,
and telling me how to do it better-
(My mother was the role model for Emily Gilmore)
one of the greatest teachers I have ever met,
then or since,
told me the story of how they had a parrot,
who, every morning after they all had had breakfast,
and Rudy had had his cup of seeds,
would dance on his perch intoning
“Wash your face, Debbie. Brush your teeth, Debbie. Debbie, have you got your lunch?”
Picture a nation,
with millions of colorful parrots,
every morning cawing your name,
and dancing while singing “freak out.”
And you can ruffle their feathers a bit,
and feed them a few seeds,
and then go into another room to get ready.
Having been reminded,
but still laughing,
and enjoying the show.
Have you ever heard a Parrot sing “O Holy Night?”
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